Preview: City Council agenda (June 21)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here. This week: Airbnb, food trucks, eminent domain. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Airbnb: Last November, Councilor Rosen had an item raising concerns about Airbnb in the city. This week, he’s asking the Manager to present the Council with ordinances “to require those residential houses and buildings that are associated with Airbnb or similar companies and who offer short and long-term overnight lodging be permitted only in commercially-zoned areas and require such establishments obtain a business license from the city.” Personally, I am very pro-Airbnb, and I hope against hope that these ordinances will be well thought out and foster both nontraditional renting and quality of life in the city, rather than just hassling people with no upside.
  • Boards and Commissions: John Finlay and Elizabeth Proko have been reappoined to the Worcester Airport Advisory Committee; Edward Moynihan will be reappoined to the Community Development Advisory Committee; Robert Bilotta will be reappointed to the Commission on Disabilities.
  • Skate Park?: Bill Coleman has a citizen item asking about a previous request to establish a skateboard park and a Worcester Youth Commission.
  • Aquatic Events Regulation: Councilor Economou has an item asking the city to require any aquatic event in Worcester to be reviewed by the Fire Department and “and if need be a rescue dive team be assigned to such an event.” (Noting “this language would be similar to” language in both state and Lake Quinsig permits.)
  • Community Policing: Councilor Lukes has an item asking what changes are being made in our Community Policing Program and why.
  • Property Tax Appeals: Councilor Lukes has an item asking how many appeals have been filed in the past 2 years and how they’ve been decided.
  • Land Preservation: The Council will vote to amend the Greater Worcester Land Trust’s existing Donker Farm conservation restriction to include an additional 8.6 acres the GWLT is planning to buy out there. (This doesn’t involve city money.)
  • More Food Truck Zones: In recent years the Council has regulated many Worcester food trucks out of existence; lately they have experimented with “Food Truck Friendly Zones.” This week the city’s Chief Development Officer recommends two additional zones, one at Memorial Auditorium and one at the new Mercantile Plaza downtown.
  • Eminent Domain: In a report this week the city’s lawyer confirms that existing eminent domain laws allow the city to take and dispose of property for vague reasons like “the enhancement and economic well-being of a community” and so the city could use eminent domain to advance the Downtown Urban Revitilization Plan if need be.
  • Mt Carmel Church Historic District?: As part of the process of setting up a historic district to prevent the demolition of Mt Carmel Church (a demolition no longer planned), the Council asked the city’s lawyer for a report on this, a report which will be made to the Council this week, and which contains no surprising details.
  • Six-Figure Loan Orders:
    • $780,000.00 for capital equipment for the Sewer Department
    • $795,000.00 for Water Department Equipment
    • $550,000.00 for Capital Equipment Schools
    • $2,500,000.00 for various systems that are in need of improvements at the aging Water Filtration Plant
    • $300,000.00 for the acquisition and maintenance of water meters
    • $2,700,000.00 for rehabilitation of the Water Reservoirs
    • $400,000.00 for Newton Square improvements
    • $1,400,000.00 for Water Infrastructure
    • $12,025,000.00 for fixing parking garages and open-air lots
    • $200,000.00 for the development of a EAB & Forestry master Plan
    • $2,910,000.00 for the Blackstone Visitor’s Center
    • $2,000,000.00 for Blackstone Gateway Park
    • $6,000,000.00 for Water Mains & Gates
    • $1,000,000.00 for Water Transmission Mains
    • $100,000.00 for the Water Cross Connection Survey
    • $280,000.00 for improvements to traffic signals
    • $4,000,000.00 to fund rehabilitation at the Library
    • $300,000.00 to complete the construction of the Regional Emergency Communications Center
    • $200,000.00 for Water Building Rehab
    • $3,250,000.00 to fund school building rehabilitation
    • $100,000.00 for improvements to the Sewer building
    • $14,300,000.00 for Sewer Infrastructure
    • $550,000.00 for new street lights
    • $2,000,000.00 for rehabilitation and repair of dams
  • Seven-Figure Capital Transfers:
    • $1,680,000.00 from Building Rehab to RECC Center
    • $1,250,000.00 from one Sewer Reconstruction account to another
    • $1,500,000.00 from one Street Resurfacing account to another
    • $1,100,000.00 from Street Construction to Downtown Streets & Sidewalk Improvements
    • $4,078,385.00 from state funding to Street Resurfacing
  • Six-Figure Grants and Donations:
    • $400,000.00 from the FY17 Commonwealth of Massachusetts PARC Grant Program
    • $600,000.00 from the US Department of Education Performance Partnership Pilot (P3) Grant
    • $3,576,999 of state and private grant dollars for the FY17 program and operations of the Division of Public Health.

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